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Free Comic Book Day

Free Comic Book Day, taking place on the first Saturday of May, is an annual promotional effort by the North American comic book industry to help bring new readers into independent comic book stores. Retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, California brainstormed the event in his "Big Picture" column in the August 2001 issue of Comics & Games Retailer magazine. Free Comic Book Day started in 2002 and is coordinated by the industry's single large distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors. This is another event like the Comic Book Day which started in USA and is now celebrated across countries in Asia, Europe and Australia.

Free Comic Book Day
Free Comic Book Day.jpg
Official logo for Free Comic Book Day
Observed byDirect market comic book shops, Comic book collectors, Comics artists, Comic book fandom, Comic publishers, Diamond Comics Distributors
TypeAdvertising, Cultural
DateFirst Saturday in May
2018 dateMay 5  (2018-05-05)
2019 dateMay 4  (2019-05-04)
2020 dateMay 2  (2020-05-02)
2021 dateMay 1  (2021-05-01)


In 2001, retailer Joe Field was writing columns for an industry magazine, and saw how successful feature films based on comic book franchises were providing the comic book industry with a positive cultural and financial turnaround from the speculator bust of the late 1990s,[1] Field proposed Free Comic Book Day in one of his columns, and received positive reaction to it. Then-Image Comics publisher Jim Valentino suggested having the first Free Comic Book Day on the same weekend as the opening of the 2002 Spider-Man feature film, in order to take advantage of the film's heavy promotion and related press about the comic book medium,[2][3] and thus the first event was held May 4, 2002, one day after the film's opening.[2][4] However, not all events have corresponded with the release of a film based on a comic book.[5] In 2004 it was held in July,[6] but it was moved back to the first Saturday in May the following year[7] and has been held on that day ever since.[8] On Free Comic Book Day, participating comic book store retailers give away specially printed copies of free comic books, and some offer special deals and creator signings to those visiting their establishments.[9] However, retailers do not receive the issues for free; they pay 12–50 cents per copy for the comics they give away during the event.[10][11] In addition to comic books, some stores also give away other merchandise, such as mini posters and other movie tie-in memorabilia.[12]

Year Date Associated film
1 May 4, 2002 Spider-Man[2][4]
2 May 3, 2003 X2[13]
3 July 3, 2004 Spider-Man 2[6]
4 May 7, 2005 None[4]
5 May 6, 2006 None[5]
6 May 5, 2007 Spider-Man 3[14]
7 May 3, 2008 Iron Man[15]
8 May 2, 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine[3]
9 May 1, 2010 Iron Man 2[16]
10 May 7, 2011 Thor[17]
11 May 5, 2012 The Avengers[18]
12 May 4, 2013 Iron Man 3[4]
13 May 3, 2014 The Amazing Spider-Man 2[11]
14 May 2, 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron[19][20]
15 May 7, 2016 Captain America: Civil War[21]
16 May 6, 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2[22]
17 May 5, 2018 Venom[note 1]
18 May 4, 2019 None[citation needed]


In its first six years, more than 2000 retailers in more than 30 countries gave away more than 12 million Free Comic Book Day special edition comic books. The success of the promotion rests with each participating retailer. Most participants agree that Free Comic Book Day has been part of a healthier comics market and growing comic book sales over the last several years.[25][26] Free Comic Book Day has also garnered press coverage in the news media.[27][28] In 2014 the free publicity for the Free Comic Book Day event, and the comic book industry, from Facebook, Twitter, over 1000 television news stations, and over 4000 online news outlets was estimated at $3.4 million.[29] In 2015 the number of shops participating in Free Comic Book Day increased 8% over how many participated in 2014 and the number of comic books ordered increased by 21%.[19]

In some communities, the day is more grandly organized such as in London, Ontario, Canada where most of its major comic book retailers, such as Heroes Comics, as well as the London Public Library's Central branch participate. On that day, these establishments cooperate in a major cross-promotion in which visitors are invited to collect stamps of each participating establishment for entry in a prize draw upon completion as well as various other activities which has evolved into a street festival in the city's downtown core.[30] The 2013 event collected over 2000 such completed ballots, which does not account for more casual visitors.[31]

Some stores have treated FCBD as mini-conventions complete with artist alleys, contests and cosplaying fans.[32] FCBD also has a positive impact for independent artists as it became an opportunity in marketing their works.[33]

Related eventsEdit

  • In conjunction with Free Comic Book Day on May 6, 2006, TwoMorrows Publishing hosted a promotional Free Magazine Day. Visitors to their website were able to order any in-stock issue of their magazines Back Issue, Alter Ego, Draw!, or Write Now! for free.
  • In 2012, Diamond Distributors created the annual Halloween ComicFest. Similar to Free Comic Book Day, Halloween ComicFest features free books, but with Halloween themes. It takes place on the Saturday and Sunday near Halloween. In 2013, the event took place on October 26 and 27.[34]
  • For Free Comic Book Day 2017, the Arizona Comic Mini Expo teamed up with several comic artists to raise money for the HERO Initiative and the ACLU of Arizona.[35]

In EuropeEdit

  • Germany, Austria, and Switzerland launched their own day for free comic books, Gratis Comic Tag, on May 8, 2010.[4][36][37]
  • The Netherlands and Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium) began their own Free Comic Book Day on May 5, 2012.[37][38]

Free RPG DayEdit

  • Inspired by Free Comic Book Day, the pen-and-paper roleplaying game industry started Free RPG Day on June 15, 2007.[39] It is a moveable event held on the third Saturday in June.


  1. ^ Originally this would have followed the release of Avengers: Infinity War which had a scheduled release date of May 4, before that was moved up to April 27. The official website indicates that the Venom film is celebrated, to tie into the 30th anniversary of the character.[23][24]


  1. ^ Miller, John Jackson (December 12, 2005). "Nov. 17, 1992: A $30 Million Day — and the Days After". "The 1900s: 10 biggest events from 100 years in comics",
  2. ^ a b c Brassington, Mark (May 2, 2013). "Interview with the Founder of Free Comic Book Day - Joe Field". Geeks
  3. ^ a b Thill, Scott (May 1, 2009). "Free Comic Book Day Recruits Wolverine, Green Lantern". Wired. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tidbits about Free Comic Book Day". Inquirer Lifestyle. May 4, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Free Comic Book Day 2006 Guide". IGN. May 4, 2006.
  6. ^ a b "FCBD 2004 set for July 3rd, coincides with "Spider-Man 2"". Comic Book Resources. March 19, 2004.
  7. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2005 Date Chosen". Comic Book Resources. September 13, 2004.
  8. ^ "Free Comic Book Day homepage". Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013. Free Comic Book Day is a single day - the first Saturday in May each year
  9. ^ Doctorow, Cory (April 30, 2009). "Free Comic Book day this Saturday!". BoingBoing.
  10. ^ Carlson, Johanna Draper (March 5, 2007). "Free Comic Book Day Free For Whom?". Comics Worth Reading.
  11. ^ a b Taylor, F. Andrew (April 30, 2014). "Here's everywhere you can get free comic books on Saturday". Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  12. ^ "FCBD 2012 Merchandise". Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  13. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2003 Plans Revealed". Comic Book Resources. December 20, 2002.
  14. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2007: All New Amazing Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Three-In-One Stories". Marvel Comics. January 24, 2007.
  15. ^ "Free Comic Book Day Countdown: He Is Iron Man!". WIRED. April 23, 2008.
  16. ^ "Iron Man Leads Free Comic Book Day's Freebie Blitz". WIRED. April 30, 2010.
  17. ^ "Knowing Is Half The Battle - Thor and Free Comic Book Day". May 13, 2011.
  18. ^ Potts, Kimberly (May 4, 2012). "Free Comic Book Day Saturday: 'Avengers' Comic Among the Goodies". Yahoo!.
  19. ^ a b "Record Breaking Number of Free Comic Book Day Comics Ordered". Free Comic Book Day.
  20. ^ Arrant, Chris (December 17, 2014). "Full Line-Up of Free Comic Book Day 2015 Revealed". Newsarama.
  21. ^ "Free Comic Book Day 2016 Gold Sponsor Comic Books Announced". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  22. ^ "Saturday, May 6, is Free Comic Book Day, with lots of giveaways". May 1, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  23. ^ Breznican, Anthony (March 1, 2018). "Avengers: Infinity War release date moves up a week". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  24. ^ "Celebrate Venom Movie, Venom's 30th on Free Comic Book Day!". Retrieved May 3, 2018.
  25. ^ "Free Comic Book Day: A Talk with Joe Field". Diamond Comic Distributors.
  26. ^ Gonzalez, Guy LeCharles (February 18, 2005). "Interview: Field on Free Comic Book Day".
  27. ^ "Outside the Panels: FCBD Coverage!". Diamond Comic Distributors. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  28. ^ "Free Comic Book Day set to unleash heroes, zombies, talking mice". The Today Show. May 3, 2013.
  29. ^ "FCBD Media Coverage Generates Over $3.2 Million In Publicity". Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. 2014.
  30. ^ De Bono, Norman (5 May 2018). "Downtown London transformed into comic festival". London Free Press. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  31. ^ Lemon, Marshall. "The Crossover: How Free Comic Book Day Changed A Canadian College Town". Escapist Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  32. ^ "Fans Cosplay for Free Comic Book Day 2015". Diamond Comics Distributors. May 4, 2015.
  33. ^ Olivares, Rick (May 5, 2014). "A stash of indies from Free Comic Book Day". The Philippine Star.
  34. ^ Matheson, Whitney (September 20, 2013). "Halloween ComicFest: Stores offer free 'n' spooky books". USA Today. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  35. ^ "DC And Marvel Are Drinking And Drawing For Charity". DC. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  36. ^ "Home". Gratis Comic Tag. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  37. ^ a b "Free Comic Book Day (comic book concept)". Comic Vine.
  38. ^ "Free Comic Book Day: Belgium". Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  39. ^ Fletcher, NaShanta (14 June 2013). "Get Ready for Free RPG Day!". Chicago Now. CTMG. Retrieved 10 September 2013.

External linksEdit